FRISCO, Texas – Did the Cowboys leave too much time for Aaron Rodgers in the final minute and change Sunday?
The answer, clearly, was yes after Rodgers drove the Packers 75 yards in 1:02 for the deciding touchdown in a stunning 35-31 comeback win at AT&T Stadium.
Monday, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett emphasized the offense did its best to play keep-away from Green Bay's star quarterback on its final scoring drive of the game, but not above the top priority: erasing a four-point deficit.
"The objective in the situation is to score a touchdown first," Garrett said, "and you try to bleed as much time off the clock as you can in that process."
Quarterback Dak Prescott executed an 11-yard zone-read run for a touchdown with 1:13 remaining to put the Cowboys ahead, 31-28. The score capped a 17-play drive that ate 8:43 off the clock.
The offense had clock management in mind throughout that possession. Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris ran on nine of the 17 plays. Elliott's most important carry was a 1-yard gain on fourth-and-1 at the Green Bay 20, stretching the ball just over the first-down marker to keep the drive alive.
The Cowboys had to grind out yards just to get in position for Prescott's touchdown run. In Garrett's mind, they weren't going to burn time off the clock at the expense of scoring opportunities solely on the assumption that they would eventually reach the end zone.
Now, observers will second-guess the play before Prescott's touchdown, when he threw an incomplete pass to Dez Bryant in the end zone that stopped the clock and allowed Green Bay to preserve a touchdown.
Garrett pointed out that the offense did have success with the short passing game in the red zone throughout the game. Prescott's three touchdown passes came from the Green Bay, 10-, 2- and 2-yard line.
"I understand the essence of the question," Garrett said. "You don't want to give them a chance. But you just have to be careful about being too cute. It's hard to make yards in the NFL. It's hard to score touchdowns in the NFL."